Fur Seal Numbers Boom on Aleutians' Remote Bogoslof Island

Thursday, August 20 2015

Northern fur seal pups on St. Paul Island, Alaska. NOAA photo.

Northern fur seals have been declining for decades in their stronghold on St. Paul Island in Alaska’s Pribilof Islands, but their numbers are taking off on Bogoslof Island, a couple hundred miles to the south.

A team of scientists with the National Marine Fisheries Service has been camped out on isolated, mile-long Bogoslof, just north of the Aleutian chain, trying to piece together why. 

Nuclear Submarine Pops Up In Dutch Harbor

Tuesday, August 18 2015

The USS Seawolf in Unalaska Bay on Aug. 14, 2015. KUCB/John Ryan photo.

A US Navy submarine pulled into Unalaska Bay near the town landfill Friday morning. The sub made no contact with the Port of Dutch Harbor, according to Harbor Master John Days.

It did communicate with the Royal Pacific, a boat hauling wastewater from the Unisea fish-processing plant, as they were crossing paths.

As is usual for Navy subs, the boat did not identify itself by name over the radio.

Obama Administration Approves Arctic Ocean Oil Drilling

Monday, August 17 2015

The Polar Pioneer rig in the Chukchi Sea on Aug. 5. Shell Oil photo.

The Obama administration has approved drilling for oil in the Arctic Ocean.

On Monday the Interior Department’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement gave final approval to Shell Oil to drill into oil-bearing rocks in the Chukchi Sea about 70 miles northwest of the village of Wainwright, Alaska. The decision gives the company until late September—about six weeks—to complete this summer’s exploratory drilling. 

Climate Change, Not Arctic Drilling, Drives Obama Trip To Alaska

Friday, August 14 2015

Whitehouse.gov video screenshot

President Barack Obama is coming to Alaska later this month.

The White House released a video Thursday morning to explain why he will be the first sitting president to visit Alaska’s Arctic. 

The folksy video (it starts with the President of the United States saying, “Hi, everybody”) features dripping glaciers, raging wildfires and Alaska Natives hanging salmon to dry.

Dead herring, poison mussels found on Unalaska shorelines

Thursday, August 13 2015

Dead herring on an Unalaska beach on Wednesday. KUCB/John Ryan photo.

Hundreds of dead herring washed up on Front Beach in downtown Unalaska on Tuesday.

“Hundreds of herring floating in the water,” Caleb Livingston, who lives nearby, said as he was walking his dog Hazel on the beach. “But what really got my attention was the few that drifted on the beach were not being eaten by the eagles, or seagulls or terns.”

Scientists have been receiving reports of dead and dying whales, birds and the small fish known as sand lance in the Aleutian Islands. 

Giant Cruise Ship To (Briefly) Almost Double Unalaska's Population

Wednesday, August 12 2015

The Celebrity Millennium. Wikipedia photo.

Unalaska’s population could nearly double Sept. 15 when the Celebrity Millennium docks here.

Community leaders are worried enough, they’re holding a town hall meeting on how to handle—and help—the onslaught of tourists at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Burma Road Chapel.

“It’s going to be overwhelming,” Unalaska/Dutch Harbor ports director Peggy McLaughlin said.

Shell Ready To Drill For Arctic Oil As Delayed Icebreaker Arrives

Tuesday, August 11 2015

The Fennica and its yellow capping stack in Alaska's Dutch Harbor on July 18. KUCB/John Ryan photo.

Shell’s wayward icebreaker made it to the company’s Arctic Ocean drilling site Tuesday. The arrival of the Fennica after a month’s delay means the company could get to drill for oil beneath the Chukchi Sea this summer.

Currently, Shell only has permission to do shallower drilling into non-oil-bearing rocks off Alaska’s northwest coast.

With the Fennica steaming toward the Arctic, Shell submitted an application to the Interior Department on Thursday for permission to drill into deeper, oil-bearing rocks.

Looking (And Listening) For Alaska's Rarest Whale

Monday, August 10 2015

A right whale in the southeastern Bering Sea in 2005. Photo: Brenda Rone/NOAA Fisheries.

Researchers are cruising the Gulf of Alaska on the lookout for one of the world’s rarest animals: the North Pacific right whale.  

Their needle-in-a-haystack quest is made slightly easier by one fact: These needles make noise.

Scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration left Kodiak on Sunday for a month-long research cruise to track down the critically endangered whales.

Coast Guard Rescues Two From Yo Yo

Monday, August 10 2015

Still from U.S. Coast Guard video

The U.S. Coast Guard released video of a man and a pregnant woman spinning up from their Yo Yo and onto a Coast Guard helicopter Sunday. The engine of the Yo Yo, a 29-foot fishing boat based out of Dillingham, was disabled and operating at low power in Bristol Bay off of Togiak.

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